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Hundreds may be missing in child welfare system

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Foster child Alisia Laboa just turned 16 this month — but there was no traditional Sweet 16 party for her.

Laboa ran away from a state-supervised group home in New Bedford in December, prompting State Police to issue a public appeal for help in finding her. Laboa’s name and photo are posted on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website under the headline, “Help Bring me Home.”

On any given day, as many as hundreds of children in Massachusetts’ welfare system are missing, including 134 foster children as young as 13 whom the state listed as “on the run” as of Feb. 2. Social workers stopped checking on another 13 children recently because their parents were uncooperative, rebuffing caseworkers or moving without leaving a forwarding address.

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